SO here we are, the month of March about to close, another April soon to dawn and this old – and most grateful – commentator and lover of our corner of Essex fast approaching another birthday.

Which sharply reminds me of an upcoming anniversary of the birth of a once so well known – and surely still sadly missed by many – centre of entertainment in one of our local communities.

I refer to the former Kingsway Cinema of Hadleigh. It opened in April 1936 and didn’t finally close for good -- or bad, in many a view, I imagine -- until 1970. Remember it? Went there, did you?

The 1,400-seat Kingsway Super Cinema, as it was at first known, was of course just one of so many picture houses in our communities, from Shoebury in the East to Pitsea in the West; in Southchurch, central Southend, Westcliff, Leigh, Rayleigh, Canvey and various other places.

It was at one time part of the extensive Associated British Cinemas (ABC) chain and boasted a café and a splendid theatre organ for live shows and concerts.

It closed in late 1958, but reopened under new, independent management just a year later, for films, bingo, wrestling. One of its managers, across the years, was a former Music Hall performer, Gus Keeling. As a trainee reporter back then, I went to his retirement presentation in the theatre’s grand entrance hall. And I have never forgotten it, for a particularly sad reason.

As farewell speeches and tributes were made, gifts handed over, a uniformed attendant, close to me at the rear of a large gathering, said in a stage whisper that shocked and angered me, “Ah, well – that’s the end of a long and useless career.”

How unkind. How cruel. How totally lacking in simple decency. And now it returns to my thoughts because of the anniversary of the birth of a fine palace of entertainment which finally closed in 1970. And which became a small local supermarket, then a car showroom and is the site of today’s Morrison’s store.

Totally different memories of yesteryear were stunningly prompted earlier this week when I watched, absolutely and utterly amazed, Channel 4’s live showing of an incredibly successful, world record-setting , Wall of

Death challenge.

I thought back to my childhood years living near the Kursaal amusements park and seeing, for the first time, the incredible Tornado Smith -- who lived in Thorpe Bay and pedalled his Penny Farthing Cycle around

Southend -- ride a motorbike on the Wall of Death. I thought, too, of the courageous fundraising success just a year or so ago of the town’s then mayor, Chris Walker, who was a passenger on a bike as it roared round a Wall in Chalkwell Park.

But this week’s live view of the astonishing success by Guy Martin, a 34-year-old mechanic from Grimsby – oh, my, almost heart-stopping just to watch it! His triumph was on a homemade motorbike on a massive, 20-ton wooden wall and at speeds that hit a terrifying high of 78mph.

Tornado and other daredevils and showmen of his era would never, for a moment, have thought it would happen. Neither would a veteran scribe such as your truly, either.